Monday, May 23, 2005

5 Books I'm Embarrassed to say I've Never Read all the way through 

From Liberteaser via Tyler Cowen

Moby Dick - This book made me fall in love with Melville. I've read a couple of his other books, some of his short stories (even though I hate short stories), and many of his poems. I loved this book as I read it, but I stopped half-way through. School got in the way, if I remember correctly. And then so much time had passed that I didn't know if I'd remember the characters. And then I felt so guilty seeing it on my bookself, half-finished, that I turned the spine to the wall and made myself forget about it. I turned to White-Jacket instead. But this is the book that gets talked about. And I talk like I finished it. I ought to do so for real.

The Bible - Like I said, I hate short stories, and as a book, the Bible feels like a collection of short stories (or essays or long poems or legends or unrelated histories). I've read parts of it. I was raised Catholic, and I know the overarching themes and characters, or at least an interpretation of them. But every time I try to read some on my own, I reach the end of a book and stop. I put it down and don't come back.

Bowling Alone - The foundation of so much of American sociology and pop sociology, I own a copy of this book and am afraid it won't be as ground-breaking as people say. Or that the world has changed and this book is no longer relevent. I should at least start it.

Wealth of Nations - I minored in economics, and every so often I think about getting a Master's degree in the same. I'm a confessed capitalist and libertarian. But I haven't read any Adam Smith. For shame.

The Ugly American - I've heard that it doesn't mean what most people think it means. I've heard that the literary ugly American is a good, kind-hearted person who does a lot of good as is recognized as such by the people he helps but doesn't look good for European cameras. This is very different from the modern use of the phrase, which I take to mean the American who blunders into situations without understanding and does more harm than good, who visits countries without knowing or caring about the country's history or culture. I don't know if it's true. But I've said as much, and it seems I should know for sure before opening my mouth.

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